Dr. James Loewen, historian, distinguished lecturer and author of Lies My Teacher Told Me, will speak Monday, March 15, at the University of St. Thomas.
Loewen's lecture, free and open to the public, is part of Challenge Day. He will speak at 6:30 p.m. in O’Shaughnessy Educational Center auditorium, with refreshments and book signing afterward.
A sociologist, Loewen spent two years at the Smithsonian Institute surveying 12 leading high school textbooks of American history, where he found an "embarrassing amalgam of bland optimism, blind patriotism and misinformation."
In response, he wrote Lies My Teacher Told Me, in part a critique of existing books but also a retelling of American history as he believes that it should – and could – be taught to American students. Beginning with pre-Columbian American history and ranging over characters and events as diverse as Reconstruction, Helen Keller, the first Thanksgiving and the My Lai massacre, Loewen supplies the conflict, suspense, unresolved drama, and connection with current-day issues often missing from textbook accounts.
Loewen attended Carleton College and has a Ph.D. in sociology from Harvard University. He taught race relations for 20 years at the University of Vermont and taught previously at Tougaloo College in Mississippi. He now lives in Washington, D.C., continuing his research on how Americans remember their past.
He has been an expert witness in more than 50 civil rights, voting rights and employment cases. His awards include the First Annual Spivack Award of the American Sociological Association for "sociological research applied to the field of intergroup relations," the American Book Award (for Lies My Teacher Told Me), and the Oliver Cromwell Cox Award for Distinguished Anti-Racist Scholarship. He also is Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians.